Focus through Giving

Almost two months ago, I took the leap of faith to focus on Impactful Improv full-time.  One of my key goals this entire year has been to blog regularly.  If you follow my blogs, you will notice that has not been the reality, so when I returned from my trip with my family, I was determined to write regularly, especially with all the inspiration from the amazing sites and history of the United States.  Every day for the past month, I have spent hours trying to write content based on the notebooks of inspiration, reflection and lessons.  Every day, I have been frustrated with the lack of content.   

So why has it taken me all year to write?

  • Excuses in Disguise:  While I was still working full-time, I was completely drained at the end of the day.  In theory, I was going to prioritize my business, but every day I would let years of prioritizing a job creep in to dominate my thoughts.   I would make the excuse (justifying it as a genuine reason) that I was simply too drained to be creative.   I removed the initial barrier by making better choices every day which for me included the decision to leave an environment where I was not living to my full potential.
  • Subconscious (and Conscious) Fear of Judgement:   When I facilitate a workshop, I feel no fear and am very energized.  I am even able to create a safe space for participants to go beyond their comfort zone.   The opposite happens when I sit down to write.  I find myself second guessing every word.   In one of my early improv classes an exercise challenged us to think on our feet. One of the participants would laugh uncontrollably every time it was their turn.  My instructor pointed out that we have defense mechanisms – in this case it was a nervous laughter at other times our mind goes completely blank almost like it is thinking “you are going to make a fool of yourself, so I will just shut down so you won’t think of anything than you can’t say anything”.  I believe this happens to mean when I put my thoughts in writing and that I still have some residual fear over what people will think.   I know I will probably still face this fear for quite some time.  To overcome this block, I focus on the positive feedback from my workshops and remind myself to stretch beyond my comfort zone to set an example for others.  
  • Good Old-Fashioned Writer’s Block:  Even the best of writers gets stuck at times. In this area I have been able to employ 2 techniques to help with this one.  The Pomodoro Technique breaks time into 25-minute intervals with 5-minute breaks.  This allows me to leverage my strength in deadlines to focus on creating content within 1-2 intervals. I pair the Pomodoro Technique with an exercise in just writing my stream of consciousness on paper.  This helps to open the figurative dam of blocking thoughts by releasing them on paper opening the stream of creative thoughts.

As I continued to refine and employ these techniques, I still hadn’t been able to produce a single blog post and very few Social Medial posts.  I was starting to get frustrated, and even worse, some some self-doubt about growing Impactful Improv was beginning to creep into my mind.  I believe 100% in Impactful Improv and have no regrets about being a full-time business owner, but I was still left with the question of how to refocus.  The other day, the answer arrived.  I received an email looking for last minute volunteer to help pack Senior Boxes at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Foodbank.   I was reminded of the many quotes that the best way to help yourself is to help others, so I signed up.    I had a great morning at the event and sure enough in giving, I received the bigger gift myself.  It reminded me of a key improv principal of giving gifts to your scene partners.  On the stage, improvisers can also get stuck, but that is why improvisers provide and use gifts to build upon and inspire each other.  Improv is not about getting noticed or getting the biggest laugh.  To me the laughter and entertainment comes from creating something together in the moment.   I realized my current mental block was being caused not because of excuses or fear or even the use of my time, it was because of my motive.   I was trying to write to expand my business, but the real reason I started Impactful Improv was to share my experiences and be a gift to others.  Sure enough, once I changed my mindset to giving, the words began to flow again and reminded me of why I do what I do every day.

I hope this blog is a gift to its readers and look forward to sharing many more of my gifts to hopefully help people make positive changes and improvements to their lives.

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